Fall is here in Portland, and with it, flu season. Which means it’s time for you and your family to get their flu shots. Flu shots are the best way to prevent you (and those around you) from catching influenza. We at East Portland Pediatric Clinic, along with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommend the flu vaccine for anyone who is aged six months and older. To make this as easy as possible for our patients, we will hold a drive thru flu clinic on Saturday, October 14th from 9am-4pm.
Why a drive thru flu clinic? Not only does this allow us to vaccinate as many patients as possible, being outdoors minimizes the risk of transmitting influenza and other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and RSV. Please note that you’ll need to contact us first to schedule an appointment for our drive thru flu clinic. For more information on how it’ll work, watch this short video.
Have more questions about the flu vaccine? The following are answers to the most common questions we receive:
Can I wait to get my flu shot?
The sooner you get protected against the flu, the better. While there are some conflicting studies about how long the flu vaccine protects people over 65, for the rest of us the protection lasts well past influenza season.
I already had the flu. Do I really need to get vaccinated as well?
First, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same flu. Unfortunately, we use the word flu for two different illnesses. The stomach flu (also known as gastroenteritis) is a nausea, vomiting and diarrhea illness. True influenza is primarily a respiratory illness. Its symptoms include a fever that can last up to eight days, coughing, sore throat and body aches. You can also have vomiting and diarrhea on top of all that.
What if I already had true influenza?
We still recommend that you get the vaccine. There are multiple strains of flu going around each season, and just because you got one strain doesn’t mean you won’t get another one. We see this happen every year, unfortunately.
Doesn’t the flu shot give some people the flu?
Absolutely not! Although the flu vaccine contains particles of the killed virus, it’s still impossible to get the flu from the shot. Any vaccine can have side effects such as fever or body aches, but these are symptoms of your body’s immune system responding to the vaccine, which is a sign of a well-run immune system.
The flu shot didn’t prevent me from catching influenza before. Why should I get it?
No vaccine or treatment is ever 100% perfect. The flu vaccine is particularly tricky because every year the strains most likely to cause disease change. Also, those strains can change between the time the vaccine is made and when flu season hits, or there may be strains that can cause disease that aren’t covered in the vaccine. Despite these challenges, the flu vaccine is still the best protection we have. Each year it prevents millions of influenza illnesses and significantly reduces the risk of complications.
What can my family and I do to help prevent the spread of influenza?
Here are some very important things you and your family can do to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
- First, regular hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent yourself and your family from getting sick.
- Next is getting plenty of sleep. Rest is truly one of the best medicines.
- Mask in crowded, indoor settings. Dr. Matthieu’s children, like many other students, continue to wear masks at school. It’s also highly recommended if you or your child is sick or interacting with someone at medium or high risk. KN95 and KN94 masks offer the best protection as well as a better fit (the shape of the KN95s make them more comfortable than other masks).
- Stay home when sick. Keeping your kids (and yourself) home while sick is essential to preventing the spread of all infectious diseases. For a more comprehensive list of symptoms visit AAP’s page on when to keep your sick child at home. We also have a list of acetaminophen and ibuprofen dosages on our website.
While influenza and RSV rates are low so far this year, our fall and winter illness patterns here in the Northern Hemisphere usually follow what happens in the Southern Hemisphere during their fall and winter. If that is the case this year, then we can expect another difficult flu and COVID season. Currently, COVID test positivity in Oregon is 13.6%, which is already higher than it has been in over a year.
Ready to schedule your flu shot? Call us at 503-255-3544 or use the portal to request an appointment today.